A khmer mini-Hackathon: Introducing scientists to testing and code review

As part of the 2-day Mozilla Science Labs hackathon in late July, the khmer project will be providing a "mentored open source contributathon" experience. This will provide an opportunity for people interested in trying out our instance of the "github flow" model, in which contributions are submitted for review using a pull request. Since our project has lots of unit tests and fairly high code coverage, people can also see how testing and code coverage interact with software development in practice.

The basic idea is this:

  1. We will provide a list of low-hanging fruit in the khmer issues list (so far, 21 issues, but we will expand).
  2. Interested parties can come, pick an issue, claim it on the issue tracker, create a pull request (PR) on github, make & push changes, and basically go through our development process.
  3. Once the PR is ready for review, we will review it according to our development guidelines and make sure it passes the various style checks, code coverage analysis, multi-platform continuous integration, and all the rest.
  4. If it doesn't, we will pass it back to the contributor for revision. If it does, we will merge into our master branch.
  5. Throughout this period, I and other people from the team will be available for one-on-one Skype/Hangout/IRC to help steer people through the contribution workflow.

For the two days of the hackathon, we will be focused on providing quick turn around times on review and helping people work through technical and conceptual problems.

You can read more about khmer here, in addition to looking at the github site and the ReadTheDocs documentation.

How do I participate?

We haven't set up any mailing lists yet, but if you're interested, go to https://github.com/ged-lab/khmer/issues/446 and click on 'subscribe' (lower right, under Notifications) -- we'll update that issue closer to the day.

Why would I want to do this?

Mentored open source software development experiences are a bit hard to come by, especially if you're a scientist who doesn't have time to do a Google Summer of Code. We're scientists, we're programmers, and we're friendly; come play!

More specifically, there are a lot of minor technical bits to doing software development on a project. We'd love to help you past them.

Oh, and if you successfully get merged into khmer, we'll put you down as a contributor and make you an author on the next khmer software paper. So, uh, fame?

What do I need to know in order to participate?

You should have been through a Software Carpentry bootcamp, and/or know some basic git. You'll need to be able to log in to a Linux box with ssh; if you don't have a Linux account, we can provide one. You'll need to know a little bit of programming, and be able to figure out a bit more (although I expect many of our low hanging fruit issues will be documentation and testing).

What's in it for the khmer team?

A bunch of things! We like teaching and training. Contributions are always welcome. Maybe we can do some good. And we ourselves will get a chance to focus on khmer a bit, too.

I think one very specific outcome will be a much improved (battle tested!) contributor's guide to our project, which will be welcome.

We'll be running a local version at MSU for people in the lab and down the hall, which is probably good for training.


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